Chinese actress’s death triggered debate on traditional Chinese medicine

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Xu Ting

26-years-old Chinese actress Xu Ting recently died of lymphoid cancer. Xu suffered from cancer since early this year and rumour has it that the early death of the youngactress is probably the result of the treatment she received from a traditional Chinese medicine physician.

According to Xu Ting’s Wechat record, she inhaled excessive formaldehyde from the new furniture of her new apartment, which started her illness. She then turned to a TCM physician, and received treatments such as cupping, acupuncture and bloodletting.

It is reported that Xu’s family tried to convince her that the physician might be a quack, yet Xu never listened and continued taking Chinese medical treatments from the physician. Xu’s younger sister said, Xu only began to accept chemotherapy one month after her cancer had been diagnosed, “when the optimal time for chemotherapy had already passed.

In her Weibo, Xu explained why she chose TCM over chemo, “I´m not so sure about if TCM will be useful. But I´m sure that chemo is extremely painful, and it may kill me in an even faster way.” Xu also believed that she would recover by cupping and bloodletting, because they have “detoxifying effect”.

Xu´s death immediately sparked a heated debate on the efficacy of traditional Chinese medicine. Some netizens believe that because Xu was malnourished for her vegetarian diet, and the so-called TCM physician did nothing but to weaken her immune system. They conclude that “TCM is to blame for causing the young actress´s death.”

“Dr. Bangbang”, an ID who claims himself as a doctor comments on the news that, Xu´s TCM physician was indeed a quack, for cupping and bloodletting actually can´t help to treat lymphoid cancer, and vascular hemorrhage would only worsen her conditions. However, he says that people should not make a negative value judgment TCM. He suggests that chemotherapy should be the first-choice treatment in the early stage of cancer, and then patients can choose toconsult licensed TCM physicians for a recuperation plan.

TCM has its own characteristics and strengths, but it´s never a panacea. Cupping, acupuncture and measles scratching can help relieve fatigue and muscle pain. Cupping has been used by many Olympic athletes. However, no evidence has shown the effects of bloodletting yet.

The article is originally published on China Info 24 on September 15, 2016.

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